ONE of the loudest receptions of the evening was given to a dedicated employee who has not missed a day of work in the last 20 years.

Nigel Patel, 41, from Basingstoke, was cheered on by fellow workers as he received his Employee of the Year Award, presented by Erin Huntington from Eli Lilly, which sponsored the award.

Mr Patel, a member of the housekeeping team at Festival Place, was nominated by members of the shopping centre's human resources team.

He has worked hard to keep the town centre shopping areas spick and span for two decades, and has been with Festival Place since it opened in 2002.

The award recognised his long service, his zero per cent absence record, and the excellent levels of customer service he has provided to the centre's retailers and caterers over the years.

As she introduced Mr Patel, award ceremony host Maggie Philbin said: "This award recognises an individual who has demonstrated commitment to customer care, team work and personal development.

"He has a real can do' character and will always go beyond the call of duty to ensure he delivers the best customer care."

Mr Patel was modest about his achievements after being presented with the award, saying he was pleased to receive the accolade, but added it had come as a complete surprise.